How Long is Your Long Run Really?

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I was walking Bandit one day last week, thinking about my “long-er” runs and how much more manageable short long runs seem (if that makes sense). I had already decided on this topic for todays post, then I was texting with another runner friend. She is also not running very long these days or racing, although our reasons are different.

We both mused about how we might get back to longer runs and races — some day

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Prepping or grabbing that post run snack

It’s not just the run
If you’ve ever trained for a longer distance race, you know that the long run can start the night before. Laying out your clothes, your fuel, your hydration, perhaps your recovery snack. Making sure you either have the ingredients for breakfast, or getting breakfast ready so that it’s ready to just grab or heat up. Making sure any electronics you need are charged. Making sure you get to bed at a decent hour so you’re rested.

The morning of your long run there’s dressing. Maybe applying anti chafe gel and sunscreen. Eating breakfast — if you’re like me, that means leaving a couple of hours, 90 minutes at the least, to digest said breakfast before you run. Probably drive somewhere to run. Dynamic warmup.

Finally it’s time to run!

If you’re meeting up with friends, there might be chatting beforehand — and after. Before you know it, more than half the day is gone!

You may not include all these steps in prep for your long run, but there’s no denying that for most of us there’s some prep work that goes into a longer run.

Now it’s time to actually run!
If you’re a faster runner, this may only be a few hours out of your day, depending on the length of your long run. If you’re a slower runner, it can take a much longer time. You may or may not need a pitstop before, during, or after, too!

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Recovery foam rolling

Now it’s time to recover
That might mean a snack, or it might mean a meal with your friends and more chatting. Maybe some stretching and/or foam rolling. Depending on how long you ran, or how hard that run was, you might even need a nap.

Well, you get the idea. Sometimes if feels as though running long is a job! Not necessarily in a bad way, but it can consume a lot of time.

Now imagine this . . .
Your long run is between 5 – 8 miles. The run itself takes less time. There’s no reason to carry fuel (although you should definitely still hydrate!).  You are less likely to feel really tired afterward. Breakfast can be easy — some toast or a sprouted English Muffin with some butter (in my case ghee) and honey and a little salt. No prep the night before!

There’s really no need to alter your eating much before or after. I foam roll before, personally, rarely afterwards, although I usually do stretch afterwards.

Because it takes so much less time it’s much easier to squeeze into my week, on a weekend or any other day, really. I’m also able to do some strength training later in the day

The biggest benefit? I’m not so tired. It’s really just a run, a slightly long-er run.

Final Thoughts
I still have more than half the states to run a half marathon in! That isn’t a goal that I’ve given up on, just but on hold for now. Someday when life is less stressful I may feel differently, but for now, running less suits me. I also really enjoy how easy it is to fit shorter runs into my life.

I know for some people maintaining that long run is a way to feel more normal in a world that is still not at a new normal. Whatever floats your boat! Just be on the lookout for symptoms of burnout (which just might be an upcoming post soon).

You might also enjoy:

5 Must Dos After a Long Run/Race

Reflections from a Long Run

5 Thoughts from a Long Run

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Long Run?

8 Ways I recovered from my Longest Long Runs

What would you miss if you didn’t run so long?
What might you be able to do if you weren’t running so long?

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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My Secret Weapon

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Who doesn’t want to recover quickly so they can have a great next run? It should come as no surprise to people that read this blog for a while that I’m all about taking care of my body so that I can recover quickly. I have a secret weapon for that, too.

G is for Garmin
I have a Garmin Vivoactive 3. Before that I had the original Garmin Vivoactive. I replaced the Vivoactive after about 4 years because a) it was acting a bit wonky and b) I really, really wanted the HR monitor function — which was not built into the original version.

I like that I am not switching back and forth between a regular watch and a Garmin. Because it tracks my sleep, my steps, my floors, my resting heart rate, my stress levels, and so much more — I wear my Garmin Vivoactive 3 24/7. I may have to remember to charge it before a run, but I pretty much always know where it is.

Some of those features are incredibly useful to me: they help me figure out whether or not I should push a run off to another day, or maybe just do an easier run rather than a planned harder workout. Here are the things I check frequently.

I don’t really think my fitness age should be 20 & if it really is 20 yr olds are in trouble!

V02 MAX
I know that the V02 MAX reported by my Garmin is not extremely accurate, but I’ve found over time it’s pretty consistent. Sure it moves around a point here, a point there, but it usually stays in the same relatively narrow range.

I’ve never looked at several months of V02 MAX stats. You can see what happened in January when I was sick & didn’t run for 3 weeks. You can also see what happened with each COVID vaccine.

After my COVID vaccines I was struggling with my runs and my energy levels. Sure enough, my V02 MAX had fallen lower than my normal range. It took a while before it settled back into its normal range and my runs slowly started to get better.

My physiological stress levels are usually pretty low.

Stress
Garmin uses HRV (heart rate variability) to give you a number for how stressed your body is feeling. You may not feel stressed, by your heart doesn’t lie.

I actually find it kind of fascinating. In general my Stress metric is usually in the low range, but I could see it jump up after my COVID vaccines, for instance. I also know that if I see it jump up, it’s another good indicator it’s not time for a hard run (and maybe not any run at all).

Resting Heart Rate is something I do keep an eye on. It’s one of the best measurements I’ve found that can warn you you’re heading into the danger zone. I generally know when it’s most likely just a blip & the times it really means it’s time to rest by feel & from tracking it for so long. With both vaccines it jumped about 10 points in one day — which it almost never does.

RHR (resting heart rate)
Very similar to the Stress metric. If you see this jump up more than 5 points, it’s a good indicator something’s brewing. Although I’m not quite sure of the algorithm Garmin uses, because they do adjust it down sometimes the next day, so I’ve learned to take this one with a grain of salt.

Yes, my RHR jumped up almost 10 points after both vaccines, too. If I see it move up more than 5 points, again, it’s time to either readjust my run or my schedule.

I actually don’t track my heart rate while I run anymore, mostly just running by feel, and for the most part, it’s pretty consistent.

Final Thoughts
A lot of people could care less about these metrics, I know. I sync my Garmin with the app each morning (I believe that helps me to get a signal more quickly), so it’s just a matter of glancing at the info that’s already recorded. There are times I don’t have to look at that to know that it’s not a good idea for me to run hard, or run at all.

There are other times, though, that I don’t feel bad, yet the data says something is brewing. How many times have you felt fine until you didn’t? Tracking these three simple things (if that’s available to you) might help you clue in to fact that you’re not recovering well, for whatever reason, and you can adjust accordingly.

I am not a slave to the numbers, either, but I just find that it’s good information for me, and it’s readily available to me. I like not having to wear a fitness tracker and a GPS watch!

What’s a signal to you that you’ve recovered well?

Do you ever feel fine and then suddenly get sick?

Are you good about adjusting your running due to how you feel?

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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1 Reason I Took a Running Break

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When should you take a break from running? I do think it does a body good once in a while. Any repetitive activity leaves you open to injury. Switching it up and giving your body a break is one way to stay injury free.

Fairytales and Fitness

Pay attention to your RHR (resting heart rate)
The line between pushing yourself and injuring yourself or burning out is so thin it’s almost invisible. This decision was easy for me, because I made it a while ago. Better to be proactive than reactive — I always tell Mr. Judy that about walking the dogs!

When it came time to actually take that break, I had already noticed an upward tick in my RHR. As far as I can deduce, Garmin averages your RHR throughout the day. So sometimes it will autocorrect the lower value a day or two later for me, when I’ve synced that day. That just means that much like a false positive test, sometimes a high RHR turns out to be a bit lower.

In my case, even allowing for time, there was a steady uptick. I actually started my running break a few days earlier than I’d planned to. I felt okay, but my body seemed to be indicating that I wasn’t recovering well. I am not a slave to data — but it’s one hint when something is coming off the rails.

In normal times, if I’d been training for a race or racing a lot as I often do in the Fall, I might have just pushed through it. Sometimes not having running goals can actually be a good thing!

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What I gained
I gained time. Running is time consuming. Making sure I fuel right, have my outfit laid out, making sure I have hydration, foam rolling, pre- and post-stretching: it all adds up. I used that time to walk more. Fall is the perfect time in the Northeast to explore and get out in nature.

Walking more allowed me to slow down. Slowing down allowed me to be more observant to everything around me. We see more on the run than we do driving in a car, right? You also see a lot more walking than you do running.

My RHR came back down into its normal range.

Final Thoughts
You may be able to run hard and many miles without taking breaks. As I wrote in You are an experiment of 1 here, every body is different. As I’ve so often mentioned, even elites take breaks from running. Sometimes long breaks. Yes, running is their job — but they are still wise enough to know that recovery is also their job.

Recovery may not be our job, but being kind to our body is.

Still struggling with whether or not it’s time for a break? Check out Embrace the Taper here for a list of my many posts on rest and recovery.

Are you afraid of losing running fitness if you stop running?

When was the last time you voluntarily took a break from running?

When was the last time you were forced to take a break from running due to illness or injury?

Respect the Distance

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Do you ever feel like you can run a certain distance — doesn’t matter if you’ve trained for it or you’re injured — you’ve done it in the past so you know you can just go out and do it, right?

Maybe not
This post isn’t aimed at any one person, which I say because I can think of a few of my friends who might think it’s aimed at them, and it isn’t — or maybe, in a way, it is. I’ve seen so many runners who take on distances they haven’t trained for, either due to life happening or injury recovery.

So many runners get onto social media asking what other runners think of their situation, and the advice is often of course you can do it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know your body?

Marathoners, in particular, have a tendency to get cocky and say “it’s just 10 miles”, because in marathon training, that’s a baby long run.

Everyone thought I would run a marathon after tackling an 18 mile race. I knew there’s a vast difference between 18 miles & a marathon

I can say this of course, because I’ve never run a marathon. 18 miles is a far cry from a marathon. It doesn’t take a toll on your body the way a marathon does.

The next time you’re thinking of taking on a distance you know that you’re really not prepared for, I hope that you’ll at least stop and give it some thought.

Is running this distance worth the potential injury?

Do you really want to run this distance, or do you just not want to throw away the money you’ve invested in this race?

If you decide “I’ll just use this as a training run” — can you really? Or will you get caught up in the excitement of the starting line and run too hard?

Respect the recovery, too
I know I am always harping on recovery, but that’s because it’s so important! Is it that important to you to run this race — or is it more important to you to recover well from your last race and have a better “time” at your next race?

The first time we tackle any longer distance (let’s say any race that is double digits — but it might be a smaller distance for your body) it’s really wise to take some time off of running afterward. Even if you feel fine. Maybe especially if you feel fine.

As your body gets used to running that distance, you won’t need as much recovery time. But the first time? First times are special. Society today seems to reward people only when they push harder and farther. The real reward? A healthy, uninjured body.

Instead of pushing yourself into the next big thing, take some downtime to bask in all that you accomplished and thank your body for all that it does for you. Your body will thank you for that! — Chocolaterunsjudy

It was “only” a 15k, but I went up to double digit runs to train for it

Final thoughts: It’s only . . .
We’ve all said it: it’s only 5 miles. It’s only 8 miles.  It’s only a half. It’s true that as you train, your body adapts to longer and longer distances. It’s kind of miraculous. That doesn’t mean that your body is a machine that can just keep going without breaking.

Learn to listen to your body. Sometimes even learn to ignore your body and listen to your brain — your brain may tell you that you’re not ready, or that you need more rest, but your ego (or social media) might tell you you can do it.

It’s never “only”. It’s hard. Racing is hard. Sometimes even just running is hard. Ignoring niggles, outright injuries, and what your body or head is telling you you need — it often doesn’t end pretty. Be smart, and you’ll enjoy running a long, long time.

Do you take time off running after a hard race?

How much time, and for what distance?

Have you ever regretted not taking time off running after a race?

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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When is it time for a break?

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I am a firm believer that recovery is important — and often overlooked by runners. I have written about the need for it many times (see the bottom of the post for links to more on recovery).

How do you know when it’s time for a break?

I’m not talking about how to recover, but how to know it’s time to recover. Before you get yourself into trouble with overuse injuries or burn out.

I think it boils down to one thing: Are you happy when you’re not running? Of course we all get tired towards the end of a training cycle. One more cold run, one more windy run, one more wet run, one more hot run . . . it can all seem like too much. It’s normal to feel this way if you’ve been working hard for a long time.

Time for a break? Will there be FOMO?

Ask yourself this: will I get FOMO if I’m not running? If the answer is no, you are probably ready for that break. Do I feel as though I have to run, rather than I get to run?

The other time it’s time for a break, and this is much more difficult to listen for, is when your body is simply begging for it. Sometimes that comes at a really inconvenient time: when you have a big goal race or even multiple goal races all lined up — ones that really excite you — but your body just can’t take the training. Those little niggles start turning into bona fide pains.

It’s hard to let go of those dreams and give your body the rest it’s begging for, but sometimes it’s the best decision you can make. Often you come back even stronger because you address the problems you’ve been trying so hard to ignore.

Will I lose my running fitness?
The short answer is probably not. If you’re an experienced and/or consistent runner, you won’t start losing much endurance for a couple of weeks. It will probably come back quickly, too.

Beginning runners, who haven’t been running as long or as consistently, will most likely lose their fitness more quickly. I think it’s even more important for beginners to take that break rather than risk burn out — they are much more likely to throw in the towel altogether because it’s “just too hard”. Even beginners won’t completely lose their running fitness, but most likely it will feel much more like starting from zero again.

You will start losing your structural fitness (muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc) quicker. That’s why it’s a good idea to come back running slower, not the pace you were running when you stopped — you’ll feel as though you can run the same pace, but it takes your body a while to adapt to that pace again. Adding in strength training during your break can help you keep some of your structural fitness, but there really isn’t a replacement for pounding the pavement.

Why take the break?
It’s counterintuitive in some ways, I know: if working hard got me here, how far can I go by working even harder? Just like it’s counterintuitive that running slower (sometimes) will actually help you to run faster.

Being forced to take weeks or months off for a nagging injury or a stress fracture or worse will set you back much further. It’s a really fine line to walk, of course. Between pushing yourself hard to find your edge — and pushing yourself right over the edge.

Taking that break will help you fall in love with running all over again. You’ll come back stronger — mentally and physically ready to run; wanting to run. If you’re not looking forward to it, then your break was too short.

More information about recovery:
Here are a few other posts I’ve written on recovery:

Maybe I am a little obsessed with recovery. That’s because I think it’s so important!

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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“Powering” Through: 2/25-3/3 WRD

Without a goal race on the calendar and bitter cold and snow and wind, I can’t say I’m super motivated to run. I want to maintain my base, so after a short runbbatical, it was time to lace up . . . a little.

I’ve been active in other ways. On Monday we lost power for 5 hours (extreme wind). Luckily we have a generator, but it doesn’t power everything. It is not easy getting in 5 miles pacing around your house, but I was successful. With some warming temps, some short runs, and some dogwalks, it was a whole lot easier to get in more steps later in the week.

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Joining Kim @ Kimrunsonthefly and Deborah @ Confessionsofamotherrunner who have opened up a new linkup to take up the hole from the dearly departed Weekly Wrap.

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And linking up with Jenn @ Runswithpugs, Brandi @ Funnerrunner, Anna Louise @ Graciouswarriorprincess, Briana @ Matsmilesmedals, Meghan @ Meghanonthemove, and Elizabeth @ Trainwithbainfor RIOTS(running is our therapy)

Workouts update

  • Monday:  Yoga (20 minutes), SB WU (15 minutes), DM Total Body (13 minutes), SB WU (5 minutes), PITT28 Abs (10 minutes that felt like 20, LOL! — damn, it’s hard!)
  • Tuesday:  Yoga (20 minutes), SB WU (12 minutes), PITT28 Legs (25 minutes)
  • Wednesday: SB WU (15 minutes), PITT28 Arms (20 minutes), DM Stretching (15 minutes)
  • Thursday: Shoveling, SB WU, PITT28 Abs (20 minutes), 2 easy TM Miles
  • Friday:   Yoga (7 minutes), Dogwalk!!!, SB WU (8 minutes), 2 easy TM miles, SB WU (5 minutes), PITT28 Total Body (20 minutes)
  • Saturday: Yoga (10 minutes), Dogwalk
  • Sunday: Yoga (20 minutes), 5 miles easy, Dogwalk

Mileage: 9 (+9)

JY = Jasyoga
PB = Killer B
TM = Treadmill
YFR = Yoga for Runners*
WU = warmup
CD = cooldown
SB = Stationary Bike
YFPR = Yoga for Pain Relief
YTU = Yoga Tune Up Lower Body*

*Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links; I will make a small amount of money if you buy through these links

Running Updates

It’s a big job! Had to do it early so I could get out to a meeting.

Thursday
I can’t say as I was raring to go, especially not after shoveling the driveway which takes quite a while and includes paths in the back for the dogs, but I must say 2 miles on a treadmill seems like almost the perfect amount of time.

Friday
Did you notice the dogs finally got a walk? Probably the only one for this week. It’s been that cold, and up until yesterday, that windy too (or windy & snowy). They think they want to walk, but I know they wouldn’t be happy walking in 9 feels like -3.

The only reason I didn’t run outside today was I just didn’t want to feel cold. Seriously, by the afternoon it was actually fairly warm — 30 feels really warm after the weather earlier in the week! It just seemed too much effort to suit up for just 2 miles.

It’s always satisfying to see the results of your hard work

Sunday
Finally a “warm” and sunny day. I set out to do somewhere between 4-5 miles. The first mile was slooooooow. I didn’t have a goal for the run, though, so mentally shrugged my shoulders. The next 4 were a normal pace. I was tempted to do just do 4, but there will probably be a 5 mile race in a month, so I figured it’s time to get some miles on the legs again.

Someone was very happy to see “Daddy”. Until she wanted dinner, of course, then it’s all Mommy!

Favorites of the week
Got together with Running Buddy D for lunch — it’s been a couple of months since we caught up. I miss running with her, but she has some exciting plans that I’m sure I’ll get to hear all about the next time we get together.

Very glad we got the starter on the generator got fixed, otherwise it would’ve gotten pretty chilly in here on Monday (and last night, as it turned out)! Also glad the power came back on before I went to bed both times, as the generator is below our bedroom and quite loud.

Happy that Mr. Judy is back home from a week of travels. I don’t like to announce when I’m on my own here on the blog — do you think Lola was also happy to have him home?

Talk to me:

What was a favorite from your week?

Have you tried anything new recently?

Have you had the same group of running buddies for a long time, or does the cast of characters change?

R&R: 2/18-24 Weekly Wrap

In some ways it seems kind of pointless to join up with the Weekly Wrap, because there wasn’t a lot of movement this week. But that’s just the point: sometimes recovery looks like being lazy, but recovery is important — and I don’t have anything on my schedule right now, either. Perfect timing.

I’m joining up with the Weekly Wrap from Holly @ Hohoruns and Wendy @ Taking the Long Way Home and showing how I recover like a boss.

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Workouts update

  • Monday:  Rest day
  • Tuesday:  SB WU (10 minutes), DM Pilates (20 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Dogwalk, SB WU (8 minutes), DM Stretching (15 minutes)
  • Thursday: DM Yoga/Stretching (11 minutes), Dogwalk
  • Friday:   Yoga (7 minutes), Dogwalk, SB WU (13 minutes), DM Arms (15 minutes)
  • Saturday: Yoga (8 minutes), Dogwalk, SB WU (10 Minutes), DM Total Body (20 minutes)
  • Sunday: Yoga (20 minutes), SB WU (10 minutes), DM Abs (9 minutes)

Mileage: 0 (-21)

JY = Jasyoga
PB = Killer B
TM = Treadmill
YFR = Yoga for Runners*
WU = warmup
CD = cooldown
SB = Stationary Bike
YFPR = Yoga for Pain Relief
YTU = Yoga Tune Up Lower Body*

*Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links; I will make a small amount of money if you buy through these links

Running Updates

Zip. Zero. Nada.
And that’s just fine by me. You know how when you’re sick or injured and runners seem to be everywhere? And all you want to do is run? Nope. Well, the runners where there but there wasn’t the least bit of FOMO. I kept active in other ways, and I’ll get back out there; probably next week.

I know it’s subtle, but I can really see the difference!

Favorites of the week
This is short and sweet — there really just wasn’t much at all going on this week, just a little movement, unpacking (yes, I’m actually unpacked!), and a lot of relaxing.

Mr. Judy took both the photos above. On the left is a young Lola not long after she came to us — I’m not really sure how young she is in that photo, but she was only 4 when we left TX (and the photo was taken in TX), and we’d only actually had her 3 years. On the right is a recent photo Mr. Judy took; she’s now 13.

I was taken aback by how white her muzzle actually is. It’s always been quite light, obviously, so I really didn’t notice it but that photo was an eye opener for me. I had noticed the gray hairs on her neck and back. Time stands still for no dog or person.

Talk to me:

Have you really noticed your furkid aging?

Are you happy to take some downtime after a goal race (we could all take a page from the elites in this!)?

What sort of activities do you enjoy when you’re not running?

8 Ways I Recovered from My Longest Runs Ever

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While my longest long runs were definitely a bit of a struggle, I recovered from them really well.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing eight, not five, things I did to recover properly. Most taken from my own posts on recovery!

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Walk it in
I try to always end my runs so that I have at least a quarter mile walk back to my car — if not longer. 17 miles was no exception. I probably walked about a half mile until I got back to the car.

Stretch it out
I am not as good at post run stretching as I am about dynamic warmups, but I made it a point to do a brief stretch after both my 15 and 17 milers, and even used my Original Worm (Amazon Affiliate link) immediately after the 17 miler to quickly roll out the achy areas.

Immediately After: a Protein Bar
Luckily I have protein bars that I enjoy. And even though long runs can sometimes rob me of my appetite — as does humidity — and I got socked with humidity for both my 15 and 17 milers — I was able to eat a protein bar immediately afterward.

Change & legs sort of up the wall
I will runfess that I didn’t shower immediately after those runs. I was too tired. Of course I did eventually shower because I was also pretty darn disgusting! But I had to get out of those damp running clothes the moment I got home. In reality I could’ve gotten out of them in the bathroom at the park, but I just wanted to get home.

Then I laid down on the bed with the dogs, and elevated my feet up the bookcase headboard of our bed. Not quite legs up the wall, which I did do later, but helpful all the same.

Nuun
After I’ve recovered a bit more, it’s time for some water + Nuun.

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Protein + Carbs + Indulgence

Grazing & indulging the rest of the day
I never really experienced true runger after either of those longer runs, so I guess I did a good job at getting in what I needed. On the day I ran long, I tended to kind of graze all day, definitely trying to emphasize protein to help along recovery. But there were definitely treats, too; and not the healthy kind, either.

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Keeping my legs happy with my ShinTekk

ShinTekk + foam roll
My body seemed to really miss the ShinTekk while I was on vacation. It actually ended up being almost 2 weeks away — I think that’s part of why my shins were so darn sore after my half. I knew I needed to get right back at it when I got home.

And of course somewhere in there there was foam rolling. My body was practically begging for it.

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Recovery yoga

Namaste & Good Night
Right before bed I did Christine Felstead’s Yoga for Runners (Amazon Affiliate link) Foundation segment. I don’t follow it exactly as she leads it — I throw in some lunges and some pigeon instead of the tadasana, and a little bit of toe yoga, too. But I really like that it ends with legs up the wall.

You might also like:

What do you think helps you recover faster from a hard run/race?

Compression socks: never, during, after or both during & after?

Do you have a favorite yoga recovery pose?

5 Ways to Recover Faster

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Sometimes running gives us more energy, and sometimes it grinds us down and spits us out. There are ways to help make sure you recover from a hard run so that the next run will be good, too.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share five things I do to recover.

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Hydrate + Electrolytes
You may only drink water during the race, but you’re losing electrolytes through your sweat. So you need to hydrate and make sure you get some electrolytes back into your system.

Keep Moving
It is so, so tempting to just sit down and not move once you finish a race, but if you keep walking around you’ll recover faster and feel less stiff and sore in the following days. Notice I said less — you can expect some stiffness & soreness!

Recovery Snack
You haven’t just depleted your electrolytes, you’ve depleted your glycogen stores too — you know, the things that give you some get up and go. So you need to restock them. Can’t face real food? A smoothie or chocolate milk can start you on the road to recovery.

Compression socks
There is a lot of debate on whether or not compression socks do anything for you while running — although I do feel as though they help — but most research agrees that wearing them after your run can speed u your recovery. One of the main ways compression socks help recovery is by increasing blood flow to your muscles and joints, which helps them get the nutrients they need to recover.

Legs up the wall
Or the couch. Or a stability ball. Or raised on a pillow.

What do you think helps you recover faster from a hard run/race?

Compression socks: never, during, after or both during & after?

Do you have a favorite yoga recovery pose?

5 Things My Running Sabbatical Taught Me

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It’s not the first time I’ve missed runs due to sickness, although it’s been years since I had to miss this much activity. I am lucky, though, I know — I didn’t have to spend months without running. Even a short time without running can teach you important lessons, though.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share five things I learned by not running.

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Those first few runs might feel good
I started out slow (I thought, anyway) and the first couple of runs back felt good. Sure, they were slower than the paces I was running before I got sick, but it wasn’t too bad. I was happy with that.

Of course, there’s also the possibility they might not feel so good. That’s because either:

  1. You started back before you were really healthy
  2. You went to far/fast in your first runs back
  3. You had a prolonged sabbatical and you’ve lost fitness

Your body might surprise you
Not necessarily in a good way. Yeah, I was happy about running and feeling as though I hadn’t lost too much fitness — right up until both knees started to ache.

Knees have always been my achilles’ heel, so to speak. Due to IT issues — the outside of my left knee and sometimes the IT Band itself and sometimes the hip can get tight/painful. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but it can still happen, and I know some of the triggers and work on prehab exercises a lot.

This was different. Runner’s Knee — pain on the inside of the knees and the kneecap itself. Both knees. It resolved relatively quickly on my left knee — yeah, the one I always have problems with — but was more persistent on the right knee.

It was a mere 2 weeks that I didn’t run at all, but in general, I wasn’t very active for almost an entire month. So yeah, my body surprised me. Definitely not in a good way.

Aim to start back easy . . . 
. . . and whatever that means for you, once you’ve decided on time/length — probably shorten it. Maybe even halve it

I really thought I started back conservatively. I’ve never really had problems coming back to running after an illness — other than in pace or energy. Pace wasn’t so bad; energy wasn’t so bad.

I’d been working on lengthening my run intervals to increase my endurance at the beginning of the year. It never even occurred to me that I should shorten those puppies when I started running again. I don’t know if it would have made any difference, but I’m here to tell you — if you miss a week or two or more of running, take it far easier than you think you need to when you start up again.

What you eat is more important than activity . . .
. . .  when it comes to your weight. I knew this one already. If you’re careful, even if you can’t be active at all, you can maintain your weight. I did. I’m not saying it was easy, and it certainly would be much harder if I couldn’t be active for a really long time — I hope I never have to find out about that! But there’s truth to the saying:

Abs are made in the kitchen.

If you’re not careful and you give in to the “woe is me, I might as well eat to comfort myself” mentality — yeah, you are probably going to deal with some weight gain. And that will make getting back into activity even harder.

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The smile says it all

You’re lucky to run
There are plenty of people on any given day that would give their eyeteeth to be able to run. Heck, to walk. Or walk unassisted. To not be in pain. To feel better about themselves. To be able to do the simple things in life.

It’s always a good day when you can do something you love, something that makes you feel better, no matter how how long or short a time you can do it.

In other words, count your blessings!

What surprised you after you started to run after some time not running?

What advice would you give to a runner who can’t run?

What is the very best thing about running to you?